Western’s Regional Development Center to conduct public opinion poll

CULLOWHEE – This is one unsolicited telephone call that residents of the 23 westernmost counties of North Carolina just might want to take.

The folks at Western Carolina University’s Center for Regional Development will be calling residents of Western North Carolina during the month of October as part of a public opinion poll, and are seeking as much participation as possible.

“Although the details of the survey questions are still being finalized, we expect to produce a poll that will give us a good idea of the demographic characteristics, economic outlook, and political and social opinions of citizens in WNC,” said Christopher Cooper, assistant professor of political science and public affairs at Western and faculty associate with the Center for Regional Development.

The survey should begin toward the end of October. Telephone numbers will be selected at random.

The CRD staff will be conducting the survey in conjunction with an extensive analysis of economic trends in the region and state by Steve Ha, assistant professor of business computer information systems and economics at Western.

“Taken together, the opinion poll and the economic trend analysis should provide an understanding of the mindset of the region’s residents about the state of current events in Western North Carolina and a look at the economic realities they face,” said Cooper.

The results will be published in a “state of the region” report that will be distributed to decision-makers and interested parties across the region. During the spring, Center for Regional Development faculty associates will present the report to a variety of groups across Western North Carolina.

The poll will be implemented from the University Outreach Center on the Western Carolina campus, which is being equipped with a polling center containing 12 fully networked call stations. Each call station has a computer loaded with computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) software, a state-of-the-art program that enables callers to complete surveys with minimal error and that reduces the time needed for data entry.

Working with Cooper on the poll will be Kathleen Brennan, assistant professor of anthropology and sociology at Western. Brennan and Cooper have extensive experience conducting surveys and analyzing quantitative data.

Counties taking part in the survey are Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Caldwell, Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain, Transylvania, Watauga, Wilkes and Yancey.

For more information about the poll, contact Chris Cooper at (828) 227-3453 or via e-mail at ccooper@wcu.edu, or Kathleen Brennan at (828) 227-7492 or via e-mail at kbrennan@wcu.edu.